By Chito Chavez
The Quezon City veterinary office warned the public that eating double dead meat (botcha) is unsafe and can pose serious health issues.
With its strong demand this Holiday season, unscrupulous groups use “botcha’’ in making processed meat or use them as ingredients for their dishes that are sold to the public.
The situation has alarmed the city government as the public mostly from the urban poor patronize these unsafe meat products as they are sold at highly discounted prices.
Filipinos traditionally prepare sumptuous meals for their noche buena and media noche festivities during Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
However, Mayor Herbert Bautista appealed to the public never to buy unsafe double dead meat as they run the risk of being afflicted with serious diseases like diarrhea, sore eyes and skin infections.
Article 18 of Republic Act 7394 also known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines prohibits the manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce or import into the Philippines any consumer product which is not in conformity with an applicable consumer product quality or safety standard.
The law imposes a fine of not less than P1, 000 but not more than P10, 000 or an imprisonment of not less than two months but not more than one year or both depending on the discretion of the court.
With the high probability of botcha being sold in the market, Councilor Victor Ferrer Jr. asked the city government to intensify its drive against syndicates discreetly selling double dead meat products at the local markets to protect the public from communicable diseases.
Ferrer noted the possibility of hot meat flooding the market with the high demand of processed meats and similar products this holiday season.
He added that reports reaching his office disclosed that expired and unlabeled hotdogs, hams, tocino, tapa, frankfurters and marinated meat products are being sold in the markets of Quezon City.
Other city officials appealed to Bautista to create a special team that will strictly monitor all private and public markets in a bid to rid the sale of double dead or unsafe meat.
Bautista also directed the Quezon City Police Department (QCPD) and the city government’s health department, market development and administration department and other concerned offices to regularly coordinate with the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) to ensure that only meat safe for human consumption are sold in the private and public markets of Quezon City.
The city mayor wants stiffer penalties like huge fines, longer jail terms and if possible both punishments be imposed on unscrupulous individuals and errant meat traders operating in the city.
Due to hard times, Ferrer said individuals especially those belonging to the urban poor category are forced to purchase hot meat that are sold almost at half the price.
He cautioned consumers that buying double dead meat may prove disastrous to their families as its intake might cause serious ailments or even death in some cases.
Due to its proximity to the piggeries in Central and Northern Luzon provinces, Balintawak Market on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) in Quezon City remains the favorite dumping ground of the contaminated meat.
Roasted pig (lechon)
Also the Quezon City government will also check on lechon (roasted pig) stalls to ensure that their products are safe for human consumption.
Bautista advised the public to buy lechon only at reputable stores citing that fly-by-night vendors whose unlabeled products are displayed only on sidewalks are prone to bacterial-infected contamination caused by pollution.
Doctors also asked the public to consume high-cholesterol food in moderation as overindulgence to lechon can cause illnesses.
Dealers of lechon outlets in La Loma said they are leaving their products on the sidewalks only for a short period of time when they are too hot to be confined inside their display area.
“Inilalabas muna para lumamig, nililinis yan. Pag tapos linisin, ipapasok sa loob ng salamin. Kasi pag umuusok pa, magmo-moist yan sa loob (We clean the lechon outside until it turns cold before placing them inside our glass-case room. The smoke coming from newly cooked lechon causes moisture to set in the glass panels,” a worker at a lechon outlet added.
He added that roasted pigs will not be contaminated if it is exposed outside the display room for only a short time.
The worker added the sale of lechon usually peaks up on December 20 and two days before the celebration of New Year’s Day.